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Altoona Police Chief gets nod to fill Iowa City Police chief vacancy

Jody Matherly bring 'strong commitment' to community involvement

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IOWA CITY — Altoona Police Chief Jody Matherly is the pick to be the next Iowa City Police Chief

Iowa City City Manager Geoff Fruin made the recommendation Thursday in a memo addressed to the City Council. Matherly’s appointment would not become official until voted on by the council.

“Throughout his career, Mr. Matherly has demonstrated a strong commitment to professional development, continuing education and community involvement,” Fruin said in the memo. “He has a strong reputation as a visible presence in the community and has clearly demonstrated a commitment to developing and nurturing community relationships that build trust, open communication channels and lead to collaborative community problem solving efforts.”

Matherly beat out Capt. Rich Austin of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and Capt. Troy Kelsay, a 25-year veteran of the Iowa City Police Department. Matherly is to replace former Police Chief Sam Hargadine, who retired this summer.

Matherly would come to Iowa City with a varied and extensive law enforcement background.

After serving as a police officer in smaller Michigan police departments, Matherly served with the Flint, Michigan, Police Department from 1987 to 2003, achieving the rank of lieutenant. He was named the Grinnell Police Chief in 2003 and served in that community until 2012. Since then, Matherly has held the chief position for the Altoona Police Department.

During a meet-and-greet with the public in Iowa City last month, Matherly — who has a master’s degree in interdisciplinary technology — touted his experience working in large cities, college towns and tourist destinations. He described Iowa City as a combination of all three.

During the search process, Fruin said he was looking for a police chief who would not only lead the department, but would be a leader in the community. Fruin said he is prioritizing the ability to communicate and work with all sectors of the community over policing strategies.

“(Matherly) stressed understanding community values and expectations and allowing such principles to guide activities of the department,” Fruin said in the memo. “Mr. Matherly articulated a strong desire to engage with the public and the media in a manner that builds trust through transparency.”

Fruin said he expects Matherly to be a “strong internal leader” as well.

“He will be inheriting a very talented and passionate group of employees that have a strong desire to serve the Iowa City community,” he said in the memo. “I am confident that he will work hard to gain the trust and respect of his employees and that his reputation as a strong, fair and accessible presence to employees will help elevate the department to new heights.”

Fruin said the police department, with civilian employees and the animal shelter, has more than 100 employees.

The semifinalists met with a search committee that included Fruin, the city attorney, fire chief, human resources director, equity director, two current members of the department and a former police captain, the Johnson County Attorney, the director of the University of Iowa’s Department of Public Safety and other community members.

Following last month’s meet-and-greet, community members were asked to submit their feedback to the city about the three candidates.

The city council is expected to address Matherly’s appointment at next Tuesday’s meeting. The salary for the position is not to be released until Matherly is approved by the council and accepts the position.

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